Mix of Modern and Vintage

I had a client who lived in a very modern looking condo in Wicker Park. She had great windows, an open floor plan and enough space but she was struggling to make her existing furniture work. 

The furniture set was relatively new and a contemporary style, but she had bought it before she figured out what her style was. Over the last couple of years she realized that she loved mid-century modern and had been slowly adding pieces to her home in the form of a dresser and dining room table, but overall the home felt, well, kind of cold.

Sometimes open floor plans can be great, but it also can be challenging to define spaces. Her living room felt a bit like it was floating and so I recommended a small armless chaise that would add more seating, define the space, but allow for the open sight lines and not block the room off. 

I also suggested bringing in more wood tones. Her coffee table had seen better days and swapping it out with a wood mid century table would give her the vibe she was going for.  Plus some wood accessories to give the place some more warmth. 

The rooms were bathed in light during the day, but quite dim at night. There were some ceiling lights but the room missed ambient light. I suggested adding an arc lamp for the living room and some side table lamps. 

The last need was color. The walls were light grey, the couch was beige, the rug (which she wanted to keep) was white. While I do love a good neutral room they can be tricky to pull off. Plus she was craving color and so I suggested bringing it in through pillows, fabric covered boxes (which would also provide storage) and a throw blanket. 

If you are struggling with an open floor plan or a room that lacks warmth here is what I would suggest. 

  1. Define the space. Look at your furniture layout. Is it a space that is welcoming or are there pieces blocking the flow of people into the space. If the furniture feels like it is floating can you adjust the furniture to create a zone or add a rug that will help ground the room. 
  2. Add warmth through nature or nature inspired items. Things like geode coasters, wooden bowls or boxes, crystals or stones, sheepskins and plants can really warm up a space. 
  3. Add more lighting. Even if you think you have enough lights add some more. You want there to be overhead light for the room, which should be on a dimmer switch, task lighting (I crochet so there needs to be a light next to the couch in order to see what I'm doing) and ambient light. These are the side table lamps or small lights scattered about a room that give it a great glow. A great way to bring in nature and add light is with a salt rock lamp
  4. Color color color. It doesn't have to be a lot. Bring color into a room through textiles or art. 

Keep an eye out because I'll be talking about color much more in the upcoming weeks. 

I'm only going to be posting once a week because I'm creating a new course and I want to devote some time to finishing that project. Follow along on Instagram where I post daily about what I am doing, creating, eating, designing and thinking about. 



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Thoughts on changing everything

Hackney Empire  by House of Hackney 

Hackney Empire by House of Hackney 

When I moved into my apartment my bedroom was a beige box in the basement with a very small window. My prior bedroom was bright and full of sunshine and pretty much everything I owned did not work in my dark cave room. 

I ditched my dresser and used an old buffet that belonged to my great-grandparents instead, I already had a bed and headboard but it didn't fit the room since it was made out of white reclaimed wood. 

I took my inspiration from a rug that I had bought in Turkey. I wanted the space to not try to fight the lack of light and lower ceilings and I wanted to create a cozy eclectic feel-a little bit like Amelie's flat. 

Before I went shopping I created a mood board which helped me gain some direction over what I was going to purchase and what colors I wanted to incorporate. 


I put down rugs, hung curtains, made a slip cover for my headboard in that lovely blue velvet and found a quilt for my bed. And that was it for awhile. My attention was turned to the other parts of the house and it wasn't as if there was anyone visiting my bedroom! 

As I've gone down this interior design path I've seen what changing someone's environment can do for their mood and for helping them make life changes and so I decided to design a space for myself. 

I loved the direction the room was going in and then I fell in love with the wallpaper pictured above and I wanted to change the whole room. I sat with that thought and even ordered the wallpaper to see if I could make it work in the existing space. I couldn't!

Putting up that wallpaper would mean having to change the rugs, the curtains and the quilt. It worked well with the existing furniture, but not my slip-covered headboard. I realized that I wanted something new for the sake of having something new and that while I loved that wallpaper there was no reason to go down this path. 

Instead I focused on finishing my space. I've been working on incorporating lighting, accessories and art from other areas in the house and it is starting to come together. 

I'll share a little more about that process later. 

If you feel the need for a change sometimes you do need to strip everything back and start over, but sometimes you just need to add a couple of elements to make it feel new. 

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Spring color options

Image  via

Image via

I think I'm kind of falling in love with pink. Shhh don't tell anyone. Especially when it is paired with some deep coral and greens. Delicious. I've got a really severe case of Spring fever. The weather is finally starting to cooperate here and I'm really hoping the sun keeps shining. This month's mood board was inspired by spring blossoms. 

Last week I showed you a room designed around spring colors and this week I wanted to help you pick some paint colors. In my interior design classes I tell people to look to nature for color inspiration. The photo above is a great example of harmonious colors that work really well together. 

From left to right (paint by Benjamin Moore)-  Ocean Tropic ,  Waterbury Green   St. Lucia Teal ,  Red Rock ,  Pastel Pink , and  Ballet Slippers

From left to right (paint by Benjamin Moore)- Ocean Tropic, Waterbury Green St. Lucia Teal, Red Rock, Pastel Pink, and Ballet Slippers

I would take my cue from the picture of the blossoms above and paint the background in either Ocean Tropic by Benjamin Moore or Waterbury Green. Then mix in some Pastel Pink or Ballet Slippers with a hint of Red Rock through the accessories like pillows, vases and rugs. If you are afraid to go so dark then definitely put the Waterbury Green up on the wall because it is such a soothing hue.

If you are intrigued and would like to add some color to your home then feel free to contact me. 

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March Madness Mood Board

Tobias Tovera via  Anthology Magazine

Tobias Tovera via Anthology Magazine

I am stepping outside of my comfort zone with all of this color and I love it. Winter whites will always be my favorite and I'm pretty sure grey is actually a color, but mixing in some blue green definitely cheers a person up. 

I was inspired by one beautiful day we had in Chicago where I could look out the window and see the blue/green lake and the blue blue sky. A harbinger of days to come and today it is snowing. 

Image via   David Collins

Image via David Collins

Some people find picking color challenging, which I can understand, but it is such a great opportunity to bring life into a space. I like to play with color and the easiest way I have found to do that is by using the color wheel. This month's color scheme is inspired by Analogous colors, which simply means colors next to each other on the color wheel. 

David Kidd  color wheel

David Kidd color wheel

If I start with my color du jour, which is green-blue, and I look at the next color on the color wheel I can safely bring in the colors blue, purple-blue, blue-purple, purple and all the way to red-purple. You can see that happening in the photo above. There is a bit of green-blue, light blue, navy blue and then purple in that brilliant piece of art. Since the colors are all next to each other on the color wheel it is harmonious. I usually recommend that people bring in 3 colors, but you can just as easily go up to six and it will work. 

Another green-blue option is to head the other way on the color wheel and pull in some green. As you can see in the photo below the blue-green grounds the space and then bringing in yellow-green and green-yellow gives the room some liveliness. 

Image via  pamelawhatever

Image via pamelawhatever

Layering the blues and greens and saturating the room with color makes it feel so very rich. While this room may not be everyone's cup of tea it is a great example of how to use an analogous color scheme. This may be too much color for you, but take away the blue walls and maybe that could work in your space. 

Image via  House to Home

Image via House to Home

The image below runs from purple through blue to green and all the shades in between. Even though they are such different colors, that is the magic of the color wheel, when they are analogous they belong together. 

Image via

Image via

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How to Style a Retro Industrial Mantel

Here is what I've learned from styling- keep playing with it. As you can see from the GIF below it took a couple of tries before I got the right feel. 

I started with this diagram about design by Charles Eames. Once I got the pulley in  place (available in the shop) the other side just needed a little tweaking. 

I love the end result that is a mixture of industrial, modern and a bit twee. The pitcher with flowers helps add some height. The mid-century modern vase plays off nicely with the Eames print. The sweet deer (which unfortunately has already sold) makes the whole thing not seem too serious. 

To recap-

  • First start with something large and bold that will have an impact. 
  • Next start layering items that complement your centerpiece. In this styling I had a theme and all of the items fit within that theme. 
  • You will notice that there is a certain symmetry to this styling, but it isn't perfect. Our eye is drawn to symmetry, but I think when it is too equal then it starts too feel too formal and staid. 
  • Use books to add height to items
  • Add things to your mantel that you love and want to display
  • Play with it. It some times takes me days of moving stuff around to finally decide I'm done. 

If by any chance you missed the past stylings here is Romantic Traditional and Nostalgic, which is my favorite because it is what my mantel looks like day to day!

If something caught your eye, most of the items seen pictured, except for the Eames print, are available in the shop. Please buy it so I don't keep it and add it to the collection on my mantel! 

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